PennDOT engineers made a presentation at the Rice Township Supervisors June 11 meeting to remove the bridge on Church Road over Henry Drive and to create an intersection. The proposal would include two stop signs on Henry Drive. The Church Road traffic would flow continuous. Church Road would be excavated down to the Henry Drive level. Bridge abutments, also referred to as wing walls, would be removed.
The bridge was first built in 1932 over the railroad bed. The terrain was raised at that time and will be brought back down to the Henry Drive grade. The closest house to the proposed intersection is the Evans house on Church Road.
The project will take one year to complete. The next PennDOT Construction season begins in April 2014. A five-mile detour will be required for travelling from the construction site back to South Main Road and then west on Nuangola Road to I-81 for residents in the affected area. Henry Drive will remain open with one lane for most of the time of the construction at the intersection.
PennDOT said the cost of refurbishing the existing bridge is $450,000. The cost of building a new bridge is $1.8 million. The cost of getting rid of the bridge and making an intersection is $600,000. PennDot said the intersection would facilitate travel in the neighborhood and emergency response. The bridge was last refitted in 1983.
Richard Evans said he favored a 4 way stop to slow down traffic on Church Road. “Many of us have blind driveways, and it is extremely dangerous. A four way stop is a safety feature,” said Evans.
Legal bills continue to add up in Rice Township with a total of $3239 approved to two attorneys in June. The board approved a total of $1130 to Solicitor William Higgs for Fire Department Issues, Ice Lakes Sediment Removal Project, Complaints About Motorcycle Noise, and Polonia Estates Road Blockage. The payment was in addition to Higgs monthly $600 retainer fee.
The board also approved a payment to Rosenn Jenkins & Greenwald in the amount of $2,109 for litigation matters relative to the Thomas vs. Rice Township lawsuit.
The monthly Rice Township Police Report was read by Chairman Miller Stella: 319 incidents, 146 complaints, 3 accidents, 26 assists, 14 traffic, 3 non-traffic, and 2 criminal arrests. Police Chief Bob Franks was present, but was not called upon to comment.
Stella also read the Rice Volunteer Fire Company Report: 4 motor vehicle accidents, 2 brush, one EMS call. 40 calls made year to date. Three experienced firefighters have been recruited. Rice Volunteer Fire Company Chief Paul Eyreman was also in attendance but did not read the report.
Eyreman then addressed the board under public comment and once again asked for the quarterly payments due the fire depart from yearly-apportioned funds. Solicitor Higgs replied, “There was no guarantee that the fire engine loan was guaranteed by the township. We are looking to decide whether the payments will be made on that or not.” Eyreman had not inquired about an equipment loan.
“I stand here now six months into the year and I have received zero funding. The fund drive went very well and we are using those funds,” said Eyreman.
Higgs said, “There is no legal requirement for us to release those payments.”
Venesky asked, “How much do you have in your account?”
Eyreman said he had enough to survive a little longer. “The fund drive went very well. We are paying the bills currently due. We are 2 allocation payments behind from you, about $11,000. The budget is $23,000 yearly. You didn’t release for the first quarter and now we are at the end of the second quarter. What are you going to do or not do? I need to know so I can plan. Soon I am going to run out of money and have to send out another letter to the residents indicating could they please help us get to the next calendar year. Tell me something. We don’t get told anything.”
Venesky countered, “Have you submitted any bills to the township?” In previous years the quarterly payments were made and the Rice Volunteer Fire Company had assets available to pay bills. Eyreman said he was willing to sit down with Secretary-Treasurer Don Armstrong with the bills to be paid. “Tell me what you want me to do. Please give me some direction,” said Eyreman.
See Bridge page 4